By Neto Baptiste
West Indies selectors are often publicly criticised for what many fans and pundits believe is either their inability or unwillingness to select “balanced squads” across all three formats.
Well, for the first time in a long while, selectors have received some credit and are being commended by successful former captain and one of the most feared batsmen of all times, Sir Vivian Richards, who believes the selection panel headed by former teammate Desmond Haynes, would have “gotten it right” during the recent Apex Series and more so in the team’s final match in Grenada.
“For this particular Test match, I felt like they did, and especially with the way the wicket played out. Bringing Kyle Mayers in — and he bowls a pretty hard ball — and the way the wicket played out because he was bowling pretty straight, so he has got some skills with ball in hand. It was a wicket, I felt, in this third Test match in itself was suitable for the team that was picked and the guys did justice,” he said.
West Indies were able to secure a 10-wicket victory in the third match to seal the three-Test series 1-0 and capture the newly minted Viv-Botham Trophy on Sunday at the National Cricket Stadium in St. George’s.
Sir Viv commended the bowlers for taking advantage of a pitch that offered some life following matches on two docile pitches here in Antigua and then again in Barbados.
“We had a wicket that was suitable to us and I think everyone pitched in and bowled well, even towards the back end of our innings, and just the resolve that basically was shown by people like Alzarri. So, not just the batsmen, but guys who we don’t expect to be successful holding the bat for such long periods; everyone chipped in and it was all hands on deck sort of a performance,” he said.
West Indies, in the first two Tests in Antigua and Barbados, managed to bat out the final two sessions on day five to salvage draws in both matches. They, however, came in for criticism from some who argued that the home team played not to lose instead of playing to win.
Sir Viv, however, praised the batting for staying the course and denying England the victory they hunted in both contests.
“There are some folks who would look at those Test matches and would suggest that they were dull draws, but there is never ever such when you’re competing because England had obviously put us under some pressure and were looking to get some quick wickets. They had the upper hand where they could have guys in attacking positions on a regular basis, so I was pretty much impressed with the way in which they defended,” the Antiguan said.
The tourists were reduced to 103-8 at stumps on Saturday and were all out for 120 after losing the remaining wickets of Chris Woakes (19) and Jack Leach (4) inside an hour on Sunday in the third and decisive Test.
Set a target of 28 runs to win, Kraigg Brathwaite (20 not out) and John Campbell (six not out) got West Indies over the line in just 4.5 overs.